Sparkling Sugared Cranberries

I’m going to guess that most of your already have your Thanksgiving menus planned and will be spending today in the kitchen, maybe prepping a few side dishes and baking pies so tomorrow isn’t quite as crazy? Even though I’m not hosting, I’ll be in the kitchen today too. We’re heading to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving and I’ve volunteered to bring a few desserts. There just won’t be enough people to justify the 7 or 8 desserts I originally had on my to-do list, so, after much debate, I’ve narrowed it down to 2 I’m really excited about. They’re both new-to-me, so with any luck they’ll turn out well and I’ll share them with you soon!

Today I thought it’d be fun to talk about these sparkling sugared cranberries which are a totally doable last minute holiday project (as if you needed anything else on your plate, I know)… But hear me out.

Sparkling Sugared Cranberries

The awesome thing about these sugared cranberries is that they’re a two-for-one deal. You could easily use the cranberries in a decorative manner. They’d be a gorgeous, unexpected garnish on any number of desserts (cheesecake comes to mind immediately), in a cocktail or even on your turkey platter. Or more simply, throw them in pretty bowls and they make your table look extra special.

But above and beyond the decorative value, the sugared cranberries are a completely addictive little snack! I remember Shane’s cousin made these around Christmas a few years ago and I was too afraid to try them, thinking they’d be super tart. I was more courageous this time and it turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because they’re soaked in simple syrup and coated in sugar, the cranberries are the perfect mix of tart and sweet. They retain a little bite/crunch on the outside and inside they’re incredibly juicy. I know this post is last minute, so maybe you won’t have time to make them for tomorrow, but keep in mind they’d be perfect around Christmas too!

One quick note: For anyone who’s curious, I made the sugared mint leaves using this recipe. I tried making the cranberries that way too, but the results were much better with the recipe below.

Sparkling Sugared Cranberries
from Cooking Light, December 2003

{Note: if you don’t have superfine sugar, you can make your own by pulsing granulated sugar in your food processor until very fine. Just don’t take it too far or you’ll wind up with confectioners’ sugar!}

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup superfine sugar

Add the granulated sugar and water to a medium saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring the mixture frequently, until the sugar dissolves. Bring the syrup to a simmer (do not let it boil – the cranberries will burst if it’s too hot!) then remove the pan from the heat. Add the cranberries and stir to coat. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl then cover and refrigerate for 8 hours.

Drain the cranberries in a colander (if you want, you can reserve the liquid and use it in cocktails this holiday season!). Add the superfine sugar to a shallow dish, like a pie plate. A few at a time, add the cranberries and roll to coat with a thin layer of sugar. If the sugar clumps at all, you can scrape it off and roll again – there should still be enough liquid clinging to the cranberries for the sugar to adhere. Transfer the sugared cranberries to a baking sheet (as you add more, keep them in a single layer). Repeat until all cranberries have been rolled in the sugar.

Allow to dry at room temperature for 1 hour. You can store the sugared cranberries in an airtight container for up to a week.